Active meetings with Adobe Connect Pro – getting started
I recently had my first opportunity to try out this meetings/web conferencing tool with students. After only one training session on how to use it, I’m definitely a beginner! But (I asked myself), with tools like this one, don’t we need to simply try them out and find out firsthand the advantages and pitfalls?
I’d like to share with you what I hoped to achieve (goals), how we went about it (preparation), and a few things we learned along the way.
Here’s the scenario:
I was teaching CCM II (Cross-Cultural Management – key qualifications) in FBII – Berufsakademie in August of this year, and our objectives included practising meetings in English. So the training included a collection of face-2-face meetings tasks and a number of scenarios that dealt with cross-cultural issues typical in international business situations. I wanted to have them interact online in some way because their companies will require these skills later. From what I had heard (and one experience I had had as a participant) I thought Adobe Connect Pro might be a good choice.
Some advantages include:
Participants simply receive a link and log in to the meeting which the facilitator has opened under a specific name. No downloads required. Can be used with headphones (+ webcams, optional) Other features include: whiteboard, upload option for ppts, private discussion button, text chat, live recording/save option.
I decided to use our scenario model which included a story setting and roles. Here’s a summary of it:
International Joint Venture
Company X has set up as joint venture with a local company in a new market. The aim of this joint venture is to enter a new market with the benefit of local knowledge. The local company is small, just the owner and 5 employees. Company X employs 2,500 staff the world over.
The story has detail about the amount and terms of investment for first-third year marketing and distribution, expected turnover and earnings potential. All conditions are subject to annual review and revision.
The story has its players midway through the first year and turnover is running well below targets. There have been unforeseen problems and Company X feels it is losing control of the situation. The partners do not speak each other’s language (both non-native speakers of English). A meeting is called to discuss options open to get the joint venture back on track.
Agenda of the meeting:
1. Market report
2. Financial report
a) recruitment of local employee to oversee the joint venture
b) more regular reporting
c) abandon joint venture at end of year
4. Action plan
Roles (incl. descriptions)
- chairperson, CEO Company X
- area sales manager
- marketing manager
- distribution manager
- financial manager
- observer (responsible for minutes)
Of course prior to the meeting we discussed some of the different issues we felt could arise in an online virtual meeting and exchanged ideas on cross-cultural sensitivities in non-face2face situations. This included the special role of the chairperson in a virtual meeting. So we were quite well prepared for some of these issues.
We doodled a time to meet, made sure that everyone had headphones and webcams (optional). Students prepared their roles on their own time. The time we set was about 14 days later. If class is held weekly, I recommend allowing this amount of time for preparation of an initial meeting session.
The meeting went very well! Isabelle chaired the meeting very professionally and all the other participants took their roles seriously and helped each other out with technical issues that came up during the discussion, as in their roles/story. The financial manager was absent (couldn’t get on for some reason) so this meant that the others had to manage – a very typical scenario we thought, and again, this was managed well by everyone else, i.e. participants gave their opinions about/perspectives on the financial issues. The meeting finalized an action plan which was simple but realistic. (BTW – the facilitator (me) did not use a webcam so as not to highlight the fact that I was present. But I could hear and watch the entire meeting. I would do this again because I think students did forget that I was there). As the meeting was recorded it can be seen/heard for purposes of debriefing for future meetings/webinars.
One disadvantage to AC as a tool for active meetings training is that there is a limit to the number of participants. It worked with 5-7 participants but I imagine that a meeting of 3-5 would be perfect. But this is an excellent tool for giving reports and presentations to a large audience, as text chatting is available to any number of participants.
I’m trying to think what went wrong with our meeting. Nothing! My tip for teachers and students would be (of course): Be prepared! Communicating on the web can have added intercultural challenges that we don’t always experience in face2face encounters. And, always have your Plan B ready!
It was great fun. I think everyone was satisfied with a job well done, and our main problem at the end was actually saying goodnight and goodbye (it was 10.30 p.m. when I last looked at my watch!)
Thursday, Sept 30, 2010